Webinars are IN, but keep common faux pas OUT

Webinars are IN these days, in case you haven’t noticed. And Twitter and Facebook names are becoming popular leave-behinds from presenters to continue their dialogues with the participants post-webinar. Preparing for a highly-engaging and interactive webinar is not much different from preparing to present like Steve Jobs. How do you keep your webinars informative, relevant and engaging? How do you make sure your audience doesn’t tune you out 5 minutes into the presentation? Here are a few webinar faux pas we can try avoid:

  • Starting your webinar late – like 5 to 10 minutes late – making attendees wait or drop off.
  • A moderator who has very little knowledge of the presentation content and offers no insight on the value and background of the presentation and fumbles through the transition from one presenter to another.
  • Presenters are not cued properly to begin their presentation, causing awkward silences on the line. (Need a better moderator!)
  • Loud or monotone presenters 
  • Webinar application doesn’t allow you adjust the volume of the presenters from the listening end.
  • Unsynchronized audio and visual presentations – shouldn’t they be tested prior to going live?
  • A presentation with non-working audio and requires you to dial in via phone to hear the presenter. (Why bother with a webinar?)
  • Questions or raised hands that aren’t responded to or addressed. 
  • The webinar goes on forever, say more than 40 minutes.

Some must-have and considerations:

  • A knowledgeable, communicative and assertive moderator.
  • Presenters who can present effortlessly with high energy and the right tone (and volume).
  • Iron out all the technical kinks prior to the webinar.
  • Rehearse, test and dry run your webinar at least once before you go live.
  • Keep your presentation under 30 minutes – most people’s attention span is much shorter than that.
  • Provide audio AND visual in one application. (This is 2009, not 1999.)
  • Engage your audience and be interactive! Answer questions as they come in (or acknowledge incoming questions and hold them until the end of the presentation).
  • Poll your audience to gauge their business needs, interests and inclinations.
  • Summarize lessons-learned and calls-to-action.
  • Make your presentation memorable, buzz-worthy and viral.
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